Sonic Cinema: Eve Heller

2 May 2024

Regular hours

Thu, 02 May
18:45 – 20:45

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ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts)

London, United Kingdom


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  • Piccadilly Circus/Charing Cross
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Sonic Cinema presents a retrospective of films by Eve Heller, programmed in collaboration with the filmmaker.


Eve Heller’s films sit in a liminal space between physical reality and lyricism, resulting in deeply evocative tone poems that foreground the fragile nature of analog film. A student of both the first and second generation of American experimental filmmakers, such as Paul Sharits, Tony Conrad, Peggy Ahwesh, and Peter Hutton, Heller has been making films since the 1970s and has built an oeuvre marked by it’s mysterious lyricism and probing curiosity in the medium of cinema and its relationship to dreams, memories and time. Predominantly concerned with the found footage and documentary modes of avant garde cinema, Heller constructs her films from educational movies, newsreels, and her own cinematography. Refracting and fragmenting these source materials through an array of analog techniques such as slow motion, reverses, cut-ups and photograms, she gleans new narratives and meanings from often disparate imagery. 

This programme brings together eight of Eve Heller’s films, each highlighting the artist’s skill at recording traces of experience and conveying fragments of history. Self-Examination Remote Control (1981/2009) shows the artist as a young woman grappling with the medium and her sense of self; Astor Place (1997) is an anthropological film of passersby in Astor Place, New York where the Lumiere Brothers films had recently screened; Last Lost (1996) takes a 1940s film about a chimpanzee at the seaside and warps it into a hypnotic and dreamlike reverie; Her Glacial Speed (2001) takes numerous educational film sources and abstracts them into a poem of black and white shapes; Behind This Soft Eclipse (2004), made during the annual Film Farm retreat, is a heady and aqueous elegy for a departed friend; Ruby Skin (2005) and Creme 21 (2013) explore the materiality of the medium through sonic cut-ups.

In her most recent film, Singing in Oblivion (2021) Heller works with 35mm film for the first time, combining an immersive soundtrack with observational cinematography, found photographs, and photograms of organic matter as well as personal and found objects to create a haunting lament for lost and displaced people. This deeply textural film centres on a Jewish Cemetery in the Währing district of Vienna which opened to the public in 1784 and was since desecrated by the Nazi’s and then half forgotten, becoming a haven for birds and other wildlife. What began as an investigation into the artist’s family’s past becomes an excavation of collective history, equally concerned with the traces of people, animals, and objects as with the physical medium of cinema itself. Giving voice to those that cannot–or no longer–speak Heller states that the film was made “in honor of refugees past, present and future, facing the loss of life, loved ones, language, and homeland, in kindred empathy with their children, and in thanks to all those who offer compassionate sanctuary.”

Eve Heller will be present for a Q&A after the screening.


Astor Place, 1997, 10 min, 16mm, silent

Self-Examination Remote Control, 1981/2009, 5 min, Super-8mm-to-35mm

Ruby Skin, 2005, 4’30 min, 16mm

Last Lost, 1996, 14 min, 16mm

Creme 21, 2013, 10 min, DCP

Her Glacial Speed, 2001, 4 min, 16mm, silent

Behind This Soft Eclipse, 2004, 10 min, 16mm, silent

Singing In Oblivion, 2021, 13 min, 35mm


Special thanks to Eve Heller, Vanessa Fewster (Austrian Cultural Forum London), and Gerald Weber (Sixpackfilm)

Sonic Cinema ( is a research project and event series by Oliver Dickens, exploring the intersection of moving-image, sound art and music practice. It is dedicated to the memory of Louis Benassi. Sonic Cinema also presents occasional repertory screenings of under-screened cinematic gems.

Supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum London and Sixpackfilm

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